Retailers unperturbed by global rice problem

National 2 minutes, 9 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

Confident Brunei government will shield citizens from adversity

SUPERMARKETS in Brunei do not foresee problems with the domestic supply of rice and their prices, saying they are confident the government is capable of ensuring Bruneians will be shielded from the adverse effects of tightening global supplies of the commodity.

Representatives of local supermarkets and grocery stores said they are certain that supplies and prices of the staple food will be stable in coming months despite the sultanate's heavy dependence on imported rice.

" For imported Thai rice, there has been no price increase so far and the supplies we get are still constant," a spokesperson of the Utama Grand Superstore said in an interview with The Brunei Times. "Certainly there would be a concern towards the supplies and prices but we believe the government will have sufficient supplies."

Utama Grand Superstore sells rice from Australia and Thailand.

Supermarkets and food stores in Brunei replenish their stock of imported rice by buying from private suppliers who purchase the goods from the Department of Information Technology and State Stores.

The manager of Top Happy Star Superstore likewise said that the global rice market troubles have not affected local supplies and prices of imported rice, and these are not an issue of concern to him.

"I think there should not be any worry, I am confident that the government is doing its best," he told The Brunei Times. "The government has a purchase contract with Thailand, and it is subsidising rice prices. I do not foresee price increases anytime soon, there should be no problem."

Anuar Din, manager of Ajmir Supermarket, however said: "The prices of (some) food items are all increasing. A gunny sack of flour three months ago costs about $25, now it is up to $27.10. Cooking oil at 17 litres now costs between $37 to $38, before it was as low as $32."

Imported rice though sells at the same prices as before, he said.

"Our rice supplies are still steady, prices too have remained the same, I don't think we will hear of any major changes to this."

Ajmir Supermarket is supplied with 25 to 30 bags of rice a week at $11.80 per kilogramme.

Daya Supermarket is also supplied with about the same amount every week. It said supplies and prices have not changed.

In 2006, rice imports totalled 31,109 metric tonnes, according to the local rice industry statistics.

Government officials concerned despite a number of queries from The Brunei Times have yet to state whether current problems facing some neighbouring countries over tight supplies and rising prices of rice would adversely affect the local market.

The Brunei Times